THY cancels flights - RJ corrosion problems: seeks Airbus or Boeing replacements
Turkish Airlines Talks to Boeing, Airbus
Friday May 21, 9:15 am ET
By Ercan Ersoy
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - National carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) (THYAO.IS) said on Friday it was in talks with U.S. aircraft maker Boeing (NYSE:BA - News) and Europe's Airbus about the purchase or rental of new aircraft.
General Manager Abdurrahman Gundogdu said he expected these talks to be completed by the end of the year.
More immediately he said the company has also agreed to lease 12 or 13 used aircraft, six originating from collapsed Swiss national carrier Swissair, to replace 11 BAE Systems (London:BA.L - News) RJ-type regional aircraft which have been temporarily withdrawn from the fleet for maintenance.
THY said earlier the leased aircraft would mainly be Airbus craft.
"Demand for domestic flights has gone up nearly 150 percent in the first four months after the government cut some taxes and we reduced ticket prices," he said.
"So we have to keep the fleet size up with the rising passenger demand," he said.
The state-run airline, slated for privatization, said late last year it would acquire 19 new aircraft.
THY, whose fleet includes both Boeing and Airbus aircraft, has obtained a package of incentives worth a total of 3,100 trillion lira ($2 billion) from the government for use in investments and aircraft purchases or leases.
The number of planes in the THY fleet fell to 53-54 planes as a result of the suspension of the BAE Systems RJ-100 and RJ-70 aircraft earlier this week.
"This figure will rise to 65 in June. Our fleet will rise further this year to 67-68 (planes)," Gundogdu said.
THY had to cancel some domestic flights and destinations this week, mainly to eastern towns, because of corrosion problems with RJ planes. Gundogdu said the planes were under maintenance with a team of Turkish and British experts.
"We will see if we can re-use them after the maintenance work," he said.
He said the company aimed to increase its fleet to 75 planes by the middle of 2005 and to 85-90 planes by the middle of 2006.
"If the passenger demand continues we can further raise this number to 100," he said.